Highway maintenance marginal costs: What if the fourth power assumption is not valid?

Shadi B. Anani, Samer M. Madanat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Highway maintenance marginal costs have been estimated in the literature using the perpetual overlay indirect approach. This approach uses the equivalent single axle load (ESAL) as the unit for traffic loading, which implies that pavement deterioration caused by an axle is proportional to the fourth power of the axle weight. This paper answers the following question: how inaccurate are maintenance marginal cost estimates when a highway agency uses ESAL? We find that the inappropriate use of ESAL does not affect the sum of maintenance marginal cost prices paid by all vehicles (at current equilibrium); however, it impacts distribution among vehicles, which reduces equity and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-495
Number of pages10
JournalTransport Policy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010



  • Highway maintenance
  • Marginal cost
  • Traffic loading units

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation

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